BANGOR, Maine — The state champ Caroline senior league baseball all-star team began its run in the Eastern Regional tournament here, at Mansfield Stadium, beginning Thursday, July 18. That morning, Caroline, also known as Team Maryland, took on Massachusetts state champ Stoneham.
A three-run spurt in the top of the second inning gave Caroline a lead it never surrendered in a 5 3 win, in the opening game of the Eastern Regional.
Jayden Watkins opened Caroline's second inning that day with a single. Will Turner (2 for 3, walk) doubled. Chris Curler’s single plated Watkins, and an Adam Boyles hit scored Turner. Curler came home on an error in right field.
Caroline starter Owen Nagel went 5 1/3 innings, yielding two earned runs. Stoneham (7-1) threatened in the bottom of the sixth, and nearly tied things up, an error scoring one run, and a wild pitch scoring another.
Reliever Jaden Rowan closed the door, though, ending that rally with a strikeout and a fly ball to left.
Caroline added a run in the top of the seventh, P.J. Gunther’s sacrifice fly scoring Mason Pate.
Rowan pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to pick up the save. Caroline outhit Massachusetts, 10-3.
Friday, the back-to-back Maryland champs took on Rhode Island champion Elmwood and again scored early and often, eventually coming out on top, 7-3.
Caroline plated two in the top of the first on a Chris Curler fielder's choice and a base hit by Chad Willoughby. The Maryland champs added three more in the third, on a Kyler Boyd double, a P. J. Gunther base-knock, and a wild pitch.
Team Maryland made it 6-0 in the top of the third when Willoughby led off with a single and eventually came home on a wild pitch. Rhode Island replied with one run in the bottom of the fourth, but Caroline for it right back in the top half of the fifth, Tanner Young hitting a single to bring home Mason Pate.
Rhode Island scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, but could not get any closer. Boyd picked up the win, going 2 2/3 innings and fanning four hitters while allowing no runs.
Saturday in the win-bracket semifinals, the Maryland state champs opened with two runs in the top of the first, but surrendered five in the bottom half to New Jersey.
Caroline replied with two in the second to cut the deficit to a single run, and added three in the top of the fourth to move ahead 7-5. But Randolph answered in the bottom of the fourth with three runs for an 8-7 lead.
A run in the fifth and an eight-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth by he New Jersey titleists turned the game into a 17-7 rout-rule win which put Caroline in the elimination bracket.
New Jersey rapped out 19 hits in the win. Caroline’s P.J. Gunther had two hits, scored twice, and drove in two runs. Jayden Watkins had two hits and two RBIs, Kyler Boyd scored two runs, and Jaden Rowan doubled.
Monday, Caroline faced Team Massachusetts again, this time in a win-or-go-home contest. A four-run seventh provided just enough cushion, and Caroline beat Stoneham by a 5-3 score for a second time.
Tanner Young got things going with a one-out single in the top of the first. Stealing second, he moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Will Turner single to make it 1-0. It stayed that way for five innings.
Starter Jayden Watkins was lights-out for 6 1/3 innings for Caroline, striking out five while allowing a pair of hits and two walks.
The Maryland champs broke it open with four runs in the top of the seventh. Two came on infield errors, one on a Turner fielder's choice, and one more by way of a Willoughby single.
Turner closed things out in the seventh by getting the final two outs, though Stoneham rallied and scored three times on a bases-loaded double with two down to make it a nail-biter. Young snared a line drive at second base for the final out, though.
Caroline took on Team Pennsylvania Tuesday at 1 p.m. in a loss-bracket game; needing to sweep two games to make Wednesday's 1 p.m. championship against Team Delaware, and must win twice that day as well.
A full update on the Caroline team's progress can be found in the Wednesday edition of the Star Democrat.